Sharpsburg and Gettysburg

4 06 2012

Say it like Peter Brady.

This weekend I shot down to Sharpsburg, MD, for a Save Historic Antietam Foundation board meeting. I was so engrossed in thougths about some things I wanted to discuss that I missed my exit on the PA Turnpike. If you’re a SHAF member (and you should be), there are some interesting things in the works for us. First and foremost make sure you’re connected to us via our website and Facebook page. These will be the places to go to keep abreast of happenings in the organization. We are dragging ourselves kicking and screaming into 2008 :-)

After lunch with friends Tom and Angela Clemens and David Langbart, I stopped into the ANB visitor’s center and said a quick hello to ranger Mannie Gentile, whom I was glad to see at work behind the reception desk.

Then in keeping with the theme established that morning, I again missed turns on a trip I’ve made many times from Sharpsburg to Gettysburg. I made a quick stop at the visitor’s center, and equally brief visits with friends Bernadette at Battlefields & Beyond Military History Book Shoppe and Jim at The American History Store. I checked into my room and took a little nap, then drove back into town and made the acquaintance of fellow Monongahela Valley native Ronn Palm at his fine (and free) Museum of Civil War Images on Baltimore Street. It’s really quite a fantastic collection he has there, mostly of Pennsylvania soldiers, many identified, and artifacts related to them and their regiments. Give it a tumble when you’re in town.

Sunday morning I had a nice breakfast with friend and now Gettysburg Resident Chris Army. Then it was back on the road to Pittsburgh – I can’t count how many times I’ve made that trip. This time I made it missing two turns. But at least it was a nice day for it.





Preview – Ralph Peters “Cain at Gettysburg”

17 04 2012

Forge sent me a copy of Ralph Peters’s Cain at Gettysburg, a novel of the Civil War. Please, please, please don’t take this to mean I will make any kind of habit of previewing novels. I won’t – I don’t have the time or inclination. This is an exception. I’m about a quarter of the way done with this. It’s a really well written novel – the characters have a lot of depth, and the whole work is more nuanced – and down & dirty – than The Killer Angels (which I think of more as a YA book). By merit, and based solely on what I’ve read so far, Cain should supplant Angels at the top of the Civil War novel heap, but I think the Electric Map lovers out there will cling desperately to the latter book for a long while. So far I’m very pleased, particularly with his decision to focus much of the book on 11th Corps. However, this is a novel; novels need certain character types that are black or white, and Cain is no exception to this rule. So far, though he’s not yet appeared in the book, it looks like Oliver Otis Howard is being set up as a black hat type. I can’t say that I agree with how Peters is molding Howard so far, as I think it flies in the face of evidence so far as his character goes. But this depiction of O. O. is conventional and comfortable to most, and I realize I’m in the minority with my thoughts on him (most people can’t get past an emotional – even irrational – approach to Howard, which I think says more about the analyst than the analyzed). I’m willing to set such things aside when reading a novel, particularly a good one, which Cain certainly is. I’ll post a fuller review when I’ve finished.

FYI, Peters is a retired U. S. Army officer, journalist, and TV talking head on military and intelligence matters. As reader Jeffry Burden reminds me, Peters is also the author of the Abel Jones series of Civil War detective novels, under the pen name of Owen Parry.





Preview: A Package from Ten Roads Publishing

3 03 2012

A recent trip to Gettysburg garnered me a couple of books from Ten Roads Publishing courtesy of co-owner Jim Glessner. Both were penned by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide John Archer.

Ten Roads has reprinted and updated Archer’s 2002 guidebook Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg: “The Mountains Trembled…” The updates are primarily new photos and maps where necessary to show the ground as it is today – there has been a lot of tree clearing on Culp’s Hill. Also, the perspectives of some photos have been changed. So, even if you have a copy of the 2002 edition, if you’re headed out to the field you may want to pick up this updated version to further enhance the experience.

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The second book (and don’t get too used to seeing novel previews here) is Archer’s After the Rain: A Novel of War and Coming Home. It’s the story of Captain Daniel Spencer, a Pennsylvania Yankee soldier who, having served through Fredericksburg, and damaged physically and mentally, returns to his mountainside home near Gettysburg. Trouble follows, not just in his difficulties readjusting to civilian and family life, bt also in the form of an invading Rebel army. In the wake of the battle there, Daniel sets off to look for his missing sister-in-law in Gettysburg, where he’s forced to face the demons of his past in several forms. Jim told me that Archer’s book was on the shortlist for the 2011 Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. Considering the four other titles on that list were published by Knopf, Viking, HarperCollins, and Random House, I think both Mr. Archer and Ten Roads should be justifiably proud of the Director’s Mention placing of After the Rain.





Preview: Eric Wittenberg’s “Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions”

21 11 2011

Savas Beatie has revamped and updated Eric Wittenberg’s Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions (originally released in 1998 by Thomas Publications). In addition to coverage of the cavalry activities of July 3, 1863 from the original edition, you’ll find updates to Farnsworth’s Charge and Fairfield, new illustrations and replacements of older ones to show the effects of tree clearing, a new map, a walking and driving tour, and an essay that addresses an alternate interpretation of Farnsworth’s Charge that was put forth subsequently by another historian after the first edition was published.

So even if you have the original, check this one out – lots of new stuff.





New Gettysburg Campaign Handbook Trailer

2 09 2011





The New Gettysburg Campaign Handbook

9 08 2011

Now available from Savas Beatie is The New Gettysburg Campaign Handbook, by J. D. Petruzzi and Steve Stanley. This short (184 page) paperback is packed with photos and maps and plenty of quick info on the campaign and the people involved. Nothing too deep, this is a good quick and dirty guide for vets and beginners alike, and perfect for tossing in the backpack for a day in the field.





Allen Guelzo’s Take on Meade

3 07 2011

Photo from my seat during the presentation

OK, I’m back from my gigs in Gettysburg. I’ll post more about them later. Right now I want to provide a link to a talk given on Friday, July 1, by Prof. Allen Guelzo as part of the Gettysburg Foundation’s Sacred Trust speaker’s series, the same program on which I spoke the following day. You may find Guelzo’s take on Goerge Gordon Meade interesting, if not controversial. I disagree with it wholeheartedly, but it’s worth a listen. The talk was recorded by the Weider History Group and is posted on their History.net website in multiple parts. Here’s the first:

The rest can be found here:

http://www.historynet.com/who-was-george-g-meade.htm?tubepress_page=1








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